SHOT Show: Blackwater’s Iron Horse Thumb-Triggered AR Pattern Rifles [VIDEO]

Yes, a thumb trigger. The Iron Horse’s designer, Ryan McDonald originally designed the trigger system for returning vets who have lost digits. But he soon found out that about 60,000 people lose one or both of their first two fingers every year in farming and industrial accidents. Then there are the people who have reduced hand strength.

They generally find it much easier — and more accurate — to fire a rifle with a pull of the thumb rather than using their index finger.

He tells me that beginning shooters print 20-25% smaller groups when shooting with a thumb trigger rather than a conventional one.

It also seems inherently safer, too. The thumb trigger won’t get snagged on anything and it isn’t as natural to idly rest the thumb on the Iron Horse’s trigger as it is for some people to instinctively put booger hook on bangswitch.

There are three Iron Horse rifle models right now ranging from about $850 to $2300. Mil-standard AR-uppers will mount on Iron Horse lowers, too, and you can buy a stripped lower only for $200 or a complete for $295.

They also have a discount program for disabled individuals who provide documentation of their impairment.

Ryan told me that Timney’s working on an upgraded trigger for the Iron Horse and they’re also talking to Franklin Armory about a binary version.

Note the non-standard safety position on the Iron Horse lower just behind the mag well. There’s room for a standard selector switch, too, which they may offer based on interest the military and law enforcement has shown in the rifle.

He’s now partnering with Blackwater Ammunition and the rifles are in the process of being re-branded under the Blackwater name.

TTAG has a T&E unit back in Austin and we’ll follow up with a full review soon.

comments

  1. avatar Mort says:

    And it would seem that a good legal mind could argue this is or would qualify as a “featureless” feature for dumdum banban states (e.g., California)….

    For one cannot possibly wrap one’s thumb around the grip if the thumb is required for operating the weapon. Really, it’s a similar grip to any setup with a fin.

    Just saying. Anything to grate at the graters….

    Mort AZ/actual

    1. avatar OBOB says:

      It would be funny to press the issue in California with this

      one part of lefty gun banner fighting its other part for handicapped rights!

      kind of like irresistible force meet immovable object!

      1. avatar Mister Memes says:

        The pistol brace was ostensibly designed as a way for amputees to operate a large “pistol” more comfortably. Rumor is that’s why the ATF is so hesitant to touch them.

  2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    Innovation. Luv it. Lots of ideas coming out of all areas of the ball field. This one’s not for me, personally, but it’s good to see so much energy in the gun industry. Even ideas like this that I (and possibly most of us) had never even thought of before. Remember, wonky ideas lead to the next idea, which improve on another existing idea, and suddenly there’s a giant leap resulting in the next generation of platforms.

    The AR seemed odd in the beginning, but now it’s the “standard”. Or will be…until it’s improved and ten years from now the next generation of ARs is the standard.

    Or something after that, like a CMMG or BRN-180.

  3. avatar former water walker says:

    It sounds odd but good going thinking out of the box. I wish them good luck!

  4. avatar kahlil says:

    Its still an AR pattern, so that’s a no for me, but finally something innovative and new being showed off rather than another braced firearm or something gimmicky.

    1. avatar Dwight Hansen says:

      In your state what defines “AR pattern?”

      A change of the trigger mechanism is a huge change to a firearm. Maybe enough for a legal challenge.

  5. avatar jwm says:

    Never seen or heard of anything like this. An AR for disabled folks. Bloody marvelous.

  6. avatar million says:

    Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis will love this. RA commonly manifests in the index finger before you even know you have it.

  7. avatar Anymouse says:

    Looks like pressing down activates the trigger. A slight modification to activate by pressing forward would make it bump fireable.

  8. avatar Rick3 says:

    Very cool!

  9. avatar ledafe5038 says:

    OPMG

  10. avatar FU says:

    This looked like an interesting article written by an adult, until I came across the phrase “booger hook.”. I stopped reading at that point.

    1. avatar Texican says:

      It may seem crass to say booger hook referring to your index finger. But when conveying the 4 rules of firearms safety I have found it to be immeasurably more useful than telling people to keep their finger off the trigger…They immediately grasp the idea. If you use proper English with a beginner they always put their index finger on the trigger. I tire of repeating myself over and over to no effect. So I will continue to say, “Keep your booger hook off the bang switch until you are ready to fire.” YMMV. Cheers!

    2. avatar Booger Hooker says:

      Classism in action. So, you paid attention to Teach in English class, instead of watching the girls cross and uncross their legs. That makes you a better person than the rest of us.

    3. avatar TCHall says:

      Wow, I’ve never had anyone on the range object to “booger hook”

      Most of my students have laughed… and never forgotten the rule.

  11. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Nothing is new under the sun.

    1. avatar kahlil says:

      True, but this is in a semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip. I believe my LGS has one of the rifles in the video you shared. While not ground breaking it is useful and interesting for modern semi-autos, if only it wasn’t from some company connected with the maladjusted merc organization of Blackwater.

  12. avatar Duane says:

    Having injured my right 4 fingers in November I have been looking at things like this.

    Fortunately I recovered enough to be able to shoot standard triggers.

    Still struggling with handguns might have to become a left hand-gunner.

    1. avatar SgtBob says:

      I had to switch from right to left firing and had no problem with accuracy. Concentration is the same.

  13. avatar PTM says:

    It’s time to pass common sense thumb control.

    1. avatar Prndll says:

      I agree.

      This is an interesting way to go for prosthetic/handicap situations.

      I just don’t think it would work to well in places like California. We all know they don’t like thumb holes.

      1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

        This is a great lawsuit just waiting for any person missing fingers in California. And there are plenty of news stories out there of handicapped people (arthritis or missing fingers) being robbed. Those stories can be used as “ammo” in the lawsuit.

  14. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    Guns For the handicap now! That should be the new battle cry. I look forward to the Left saying a handicapped person doesn’t need a gun.

    1. avatar Mental Gymnast says:

      They are not handicapped or disabled! They are differently abled!
      And by “differently abled”, I’m talkin’ about psionic powers!
      Ergo, if Professor. Xavier doesn’t need an AR-15 then neither do you!

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